Flybe Names Former EasyJet Executive Hammad CEO to Follow French

Flybe Group Plc (FLYB), Europe’s largest independent regional airline, said Saad Hammad will become chief executive officer and succeed Jim French, handing the former EasyJet Plc (EZJ) executive the task of reviving profitability.

Hammad, who was chief commercial officer at Europe’s No. 2 discount carrier between October 2005 and April 2009, will take over on August 1, the Exeter, England-based company said today. Hammad, now managing director at the Gores Group, also served on the board of Air Berlin for about a year until October 2012.

Flybe is cutting costs and trying to improve its balance sheet amid reduced demand and high fuel prices. It sold takeoff and landing slots at London’s Gatwick airport to EasyJet for 20 million pounds ($30 million) and is delaying an order for new planes from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer SA. (EMBR3) The airline has also renegotiated pay with pilots to improve its finances. “Flybe is making excellent progress on its turnaround plan,” Hammad said in a statement. “The business is once again ’fit to compete,’” he said, “with further opportunities to drive its competitive advantages.”

Flybe’s adjusted pretax loss in the 12 months through March tripled to 23.2 million pounds ($35.15 million) from a year earlier, the company said. Full-year sales rose 15 percent to 782 million pounds. Flybe shares have retreated 8.8 percent this year, valuing the airline at 34.9 million pounds.

French, who also holds also the chairman role, will become non-executive chairman on August 1.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Wall in London at rwall6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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